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Student center opening brings LeTourneau students together

By Reese Gordon rgordon@news-journal.com
March 17, 2014 at 10 p.m.


LeTourneau University senior Alex Flanagan said a new student center that opened Monday will encourage more gatherings and fellowship on the campus.

"I've thought for a long time LeTourneau needed something like this," he said. "I can see people spending lots of good times here and meeting new people. It is something I have envisioned, and I'm just sorry I won't be here for much longer."

The LeTourneau University student body entered the doors of the Anna Lee and Sidney Allen Family Student Center for the first time Monday morning. The $14 million, 60,000-square-foot facility will serve as a new crossroads for the campus.

LeTourneau University President Dale Lunsford said Monday that the center was originally scheduled to open in the fall, but construction had been ahead of schedule and he wanted graduating seniors to experience the campus' new digs.

"This building was talked about 20 years ago," he said. "Having a center for student life was something we talked about for a long time. To finally see it open and to hear it, it is an amazing day for us."

Both Anna Lee and Sidney Allen said the facility is about the students and not the name on the building.

"We were just the middlemen who were able to pass that contribution on to the university," Sidney Allen said. "It raises the profile of the community and LeTourneau. Every person who graduates here goes out into the world with a career. You couldn't get better ambassadors for Longview, Texas, than these students in this student center. We are thankful to have the opportunity to participate in the growth of LeTourneau University and this community."

Lunsford said the Allens have been instrumental in the life of the university and its students.

"Anna Lee and Sidney Allen really believe in our students. As LeTourneau grows and thrives, so does Longview," he said. "They really believe in what's happening here."

The new student center features a game room, which includes the latest XBOX and PlayStation consoles, a multi-purpose meeting space, a prayer room, commuter lounge, a restaurant, several study rooms, and various other spaces.

Carly Robinson, the university's student body president, said the Anna Lee and Sidney Allen Family Student Center serves all student interests.

"The students here are all about fellowship and camaraderie," she said. "But they are also very committed to their work and calling so I think it will serve both those purposes well. Our current student center has been a popular space for a while but we have really outgrown it functionally as well as spatially."

While the center offers ample space for relaxing with friends or grabbing lunch at "The Hive, Lunsford said the university has not lost sight of its academic function.

"We have five collaboration rooms on the second floor," he said. "That helps students study in groups, and we have given them a wonderful space for that to happen."

The collaboration rooms will stay open until at least 2 a.m. this semester.

Junior Abbey Daugherty said having a building that stays open late is crucial to efficiently completing group projects.

"Most places on campus close early," she said. "If you have a group project that makes things more difficult. These conference rooms will help us keep track of what everybody is doing and in a way where everyone has input."

The Hive, a new restaurant in the central part of the building, was crowded with hungry students Monday.

"This will be a good place to hang out," freshman Elisa Hamm said. "It's really organized and the line seems to move a lot faster. You pay before you get your food, too."

Junior Matt Miller said the student center "doesn't feel like we are on campus right now."

"It's a fresh environment and nice to have a lot of stuff in one building," he said. "I think I can get a lot more done here."

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